"Same people… influencers, same holders of power"

I was on Adrian Weckler’s blog earlier watching recommended clips on Youtube when I happened upon the one below via the ‘related videos’ function.

It’s Matt Cooper talking at the Irish Institute of European Affairs Young Professionals Network.

Now, ignore the fact it was a “Young Professionals” event – seeing as he speaks about elitism, sameness, people being treated certain ways because they’re wealthy etc – and have a listen.

The last two minutes particularly (this was filmed a few days before the Budget…)

I worry, as well, about… I about things like… for example recently, the Farmleigh initiative whereby an awful lot of the failures of Irish life – the guys who were treated with extraordinary deference because they’re wealthy – went up, as if they had no responsibility for the mess we’re in [like] “we’re the guys who have all the ideas to dig ourselves out”. Continue reading “"Same people… influencers, same holders of power"”

A minister's short memory; A Govt's short-term policy

Minister Martin Cullen spoke to The Irish Times Travel supplement about the hotel industry on Wednesday, post-Budget;

He warned that a lot of the Republic’s hotels, which have an overcapacity of “about 15 per cent”, “will probably go, through Nama or one way or another”. He said: “In fairness to [hoteliers] they are kind of focused. What we want them to do is to focus on their own business, to stop worrying about what the other fella is doing, to focus on how you can be more competitive.”

The Minister was clear about where the Republic’s tourism industry got it wrong: “We priced ourselves out of the market. Golf is a very good example. We had and still have a fantastic golf product, but charging guys €400 and €500 for a round of golf on the west coast of Ireland was crazy. That is all gone, because they lost their market, and we have got to go and rebuild that market…”


At one point in the late nineties there was a shortage of hotel rooms, partially weakening Ireland as a tourism destination. This would likely have changed naturally as the economy developed, accompanying the influx of foreign direct investment. In those circumstances the industry would have developed in same way as has elsewhere; with individuals or groups with an interest in building a reputation (and sustainable profit) in the sector setting up hotels. That would have quickly filled any vacuum in the market that existed.

Instead, the Government of the time, led by Minister Cullen’s Fianna Fáil party, altered the policy. Matt Cooper covers what happened thereafter better than I could in his excellent book Who Really Runs Ireland? The Story of the Elite Who Led Ireland from Bust to Boom… and Back Again.

My emphasis;

The support for development of the hotel industry made sense at one point. There was a shortage of suitable stock of hotel bedrooms and associated facilities, which put Ireland at a disadvantage as a hotel destination. Unfortunately the availability of massive capital grants to offset against income from other investments persuaded many land-owners and builders – with no experience in how to run hotels of real interest in the provision of the necessary service – to enter the hotel construction game. Continue reading “A minister's short memory; A Govt's short-term policy”

A Smart Budget for a Smart Economy?

[Cross-posted on Irishelection.com – please appreciate I wrote this at 1.30am after a day spent reading official documents. Mistakes are a possibility, I’m open to discussion in comments section]

It’s about a year since An Taoiseach announced plans to develop ‘The Smart Economy’ (the successor to ‘The Knowledge Economy’, remember that?). In those twelve months we’ve heard constant mention, plugging and referencing of the phrase. It has become a Government mantra, said constantly when the state of the public finances is discussed. On Drivetime today Brian Lenihan spoke about it, on the Nine News Brian Cowen picked up the baton and later he handed it onto Eamon Ryan for Prime Time. You can be guaranteed we’ll heard it mentioned every few hours in the next week too.

“We need to settle the public finances with a view to developing a model for sustainable growth through the Smart Economy, going forward”, don’t say it doesn’t ring a bell.

I can’t find an explicit definition of what the Smart Economy would be constituted of, but if asked, I’d guess a Government representative would describe it as something like; “an economy that has a workforce that is able, educated, competent and competitive in areas and skills which will be needed by companies in growing industries, to attract those companies”. Fair?

Continue reading “A Smart Budget for a Smart Economy?”

FOI and the Gardai

Thanks to access-info for this one:


All that is needed for An Garda Síochána to come under FOI is the signature of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, and some regulations to be implemented. Then we can take our place among such nations as Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan as a country that allows citizens to request information from their police force. The Gardai must be brought under FOI as a matter of urgency.

O'Nuallain, Gormley, DCU and the Employment Appeals Tribunal

While the Budget rightly dominates coverage today, a story that on other days may have been a page lead, sits quietly in the bottom corner of a late Home News page in The Irish Times.

Might be nothing huge to it, but interesting all the same. Olivia Kelly reports…

MINISTER FOR the Environment John Gormley intervened in a disciplinary dispute between DCU and a lecturer at the university, when he was a Green Party TD, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has heard.

Mr Gormley in 2002 contacted the president of DCU, Ferdinand von Prondzynski, on behalf of computer applications lecturer Dr Seán O’Nuallain. Prof Prondzynski told Mr Gormley it would be unethical to discuss the case, the tribunal heard…

Read the rest of this article on Irishtimes.com

NAMA and risk reports

I will post the document first and tell the story below, it’s worth a look. The information contained in this FOI, is I believe, valuable.

Cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports for NAMA

Why is this information valuable? It contains a timeline of what companies were involved in consulting the Government on the formation of NAMA, and gives us insight into the process. It also contains previously unknown titles, such as HSBC’s “Project Neo”. This is likely relates to the rumoured formation of a “New Anglo Irish Bank” in 2010. And it gives us an idea as to the level of involvement of Merrill, Arthur Cox, Rotschilds, PwC and HSBC.

The background:

A little bit of a saga ended today, finally. It is worth noting the dates involved in this request.

On August 17 I sought the following information from the Department of Finance:

1) A list of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports that have been carried out by the Department in relation to the proposed National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Please can you list the title of the document, its date, and by whom it was written.

2) A list of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports, or preparatory reports that have been carried out by people or companies working on behalf of, or at the request of the Department, in relation to the proposed National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Please can you list the title of the document, its date, and by whom it was written.

I received my acknowledgment as standard, which was followed up with an email. The email said it was unlikely my request would be successful but if I wanted, I could be given information outside of my request. I went along with this and it resulted in this blog post on September 30. That’s in and around the 20 day limit under the Act.

But I didn’t feel the information provided was sufficient, and I always wanted information should my request be refused. So I said I still wanted to proceed with my original request. The Department then took the date of my re-request as the initial date, thus giving them another 20 working days. This brought the result of the request into early November, despite an initial request in August.

Numerous emails were sent, and replied to. The civil servants involved were “busy” with NAMA and it was taking longer than normal to reply to my request. Last week I had enough, and wrote an email seeking an internal review as my request was now a deemed refusal since the 20 day limit had expired. Today, December 8, nearly four months later, I got the reply.

The Digest – Dec 6 2009

Starting now, a Sunday night weekly round-up type thing.

The Digest will contain links to sources and stories worth reading – usually on topics kinda relevant to our terms of reference – from the week that was…

There’ll be about five links under each of three headings, Home, World and Other.


Keiran Walsh, lecturer in UCC, writes about The Murphy Report and intra-agency co-operation on the excellent new Human Rights in Ireland blog. Walsh is currently pursuing a PhD examining the role of risk analysis and preventative measures in child protection. He’s also a former advisor to the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and Barnardos. Subscribe to that blog.

Chief Cedar, union member and now union critic, WorldByStorm, eviscerates the union leadership for their negotiation failures

That we are, as it were, being forced by orthodoxy to look at only one side of the equation of tax and spend, that being spend.

Indeed one could argue the the strategic goal of the unions should have been to act to put that argument front and centre before the Irish people, ahead of public sector wages, ahead of everything. Because once you accept the parameters of orthodoxy you’re lost, since then it comes down to how much is cut and not why there are cuts. And since the eschatological approach of those arguing for cuts leaves no wiggle room (look at the actuality of unpaid leave, effective 5 – 7% wage cuts, as against… er… 5 – 6% wage cuts sought by Cowen today from pay cuts). Truth is pay cuts may be less penurious than unpaid leave. But that won’t get through the filter.

Despite the impression held by many, just 16% of families traveled north of the border to shop in Quarter 2 (PDF link) this year, says the CSO. Continue reading “The Digest – Dec 6 2009”

Ansbacher Report

I had previously uploaded the entire Ansbacher report to the internet earlier this year. However it was not OCRd, and was difficult to read because the documents were seperate. I have now begun the process of OCRing the report and combining all of its appendices (several thousand pages). If anyone has copies of any other reports that need to be digitised and OCRd, please get in touch.

Ansbacher Report

Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 1 & 2
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 3 (Roger P Ballagh)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 4 (Padraig Collery)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 5 (P Vincent Doyle)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 6 (Denis Foley TD)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 7 (Gerald Hickey)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 8 (Mary Meagher McCarroll)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 9 (Susan Sheridan Mack)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 10 (Maurice Neligan & Dr Patricia Neligan)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 11 (Sonia Rogers)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 12 (Des Traynor)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 13 (Blue Jeans Limited & JB Agencies)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 14 (Harold Murray)
Ansbacher Report, Appendix Volume 15 (James McCarthy)